Today I did a keyword search for “horror” at IMDB and got the usual assortment of lists such as “Japanese-horror” and “eco-horror.” The one combination that caught my attention was “children-horror.” A quick click and refining the search to movies only and up came a list of horror movies that IMDB feels is appropriate to show to the wee ones. I wanted to share my favorite nine from that list so take notes and you too can traumatize your children. In no particular order other than year of release here we go!
The Watcher in the Woods (1980)
A Watcher in the Woods is a 1976 mystery novel by Florence Engel Randall that was published by Athenaeum Books. It was re-released by Scholastic Book Services in 1980 a new title, The Watcher in the Woods to tie-in with Walt Disney Studios' film adaptation with this new, slightly altered name.
An American family, headed by composer Paul Curtis (David McCallum) and his wife Helen (Carroll Baker), is renting an old mansion in England. The mansion's owner is Mrs. Aylwood (Bette Davis), who lives in a small guest house on the property. The mansion is surrounded by dense, forbidding woods. The Curtis children, Jan (Lynn-Holly Johnson) and Ellie (Kyle Richards), explore the forest. Mrs. Aylwood is continually searching the woods for her daughter -- whom she lost there 30 years ago. Over time, the children come to be haunted by the spirit of the daughter, Karen (Katherine Levy). The film was originally released in 1980 with an ending that included a huge alien from another planet. The studio pulled back the film after test audiences laughed at the special effects, and re-released the movie in 1982 with a new ending that circumvented the alien.
Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)
Something Wicked This Way Comes is a 1962 novel by Ray Bradbury. It is about two 14-year-old boys, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway, who have a harrowing experience with a nightmarish traveling carnival that comes to their Midwestern town one October. The novel combines elements of fantasy and horror, analyzing the conflicting natures of good and evil, and on how they come into play between the characters and the carnival. Unlike many of Bradbury's other works, including the tangentially related Dandelion Wine, which is a collection of loosely related short stories, Something Wicked This Way Comes is a full-length novel.
In Greentown, Illinois, a small town enjoying the innocence of an upcoming autumn as the days grow shorter, two young boys—reserved Will Halloway and somewhat rebellious Jim Nightshade—leave from an after-school detention for "whispering in class" and hurry off for home. When the boys hear about a strange traveling carnival, Mr. Dark's Pandemonium Carnival, from a lightning-rod salesman, they decide to see what it is all about, but Will is fearful, as most carnivals end their tours after Labor Day. When the ominous Mr. Dark, the Illustrated Man, rides into town on a dark midnight, setting up his massive carnival in a matter of seconds, the boys are both thrilled and terrified. It seems to be just another carnival at first, but it is not long before the forces of darkness begin to manifest from the haunting melodies of the carousel—which can change your age depending on which way you ride it—and from the glaring Mirror Maze. With his collection of freaks and oddities, such as the Fat Man, Mr. Electro, and the blind Dust Witch, Dark intends to take control of the town and seize more innocent souls to damn. It will take all the wit and hope of the two boys to save their families and friends, with aid from an unlikely ally, Will's father, the town librarian, who understands more than anyone else that "something wicked this way comes".
The Monster Squad (1987)
The film features the Universal Monsters (re-imagined by a team of special effects artists including Stan Winston), led by Count Dracula. They, in turn, combat a group of savvy kids out to keep them from controlling the world. This is also a twist on horror movies as it re-imagines classic monsters unleashed in a 1980s setting, and the film also makes a barb at incessant horror sequels when a "film within a film" is questioned as to how many times can a serial killer come back from the grave.
A group of adolescent monster movie enthusiasts form a club that meets in a tree house in this pre-teen horror feature. When Dracula, The Mummy, Frankenstein, and The Wolfman are joined by Gill-Man in the search for a magic amulet, the boys form the Monster Squad to battle the forces of evil. The boys get unexpected help from Frankenstein when the monster grows tired of being continually bossed around by Dracula.
The Willies (1990)
When brothers Kyle (Jason Horst) and Josh (Joshua Miller) join their cousin Michael (Sean Astin) for a backyard camp out, the boys try to outdo one another with campfire horror stories. But they soon discover that even made-up tales can become frighteningly real. The goose bumps multiply as each grotesque story drags them closer to true terror. James Karen, Kathleen Freeman and Jeremy Miller also star in this spooky thrill-fest.
Haunted tells the story of five children playing hooky from school who become unexpectedly trapped in a haunted castle where they encounter Dracula, the Werewolf, Hunchback and Frankenstein's monster. Other than a complete scene by scene breakdown on Wikipedia that is the closest thing to a plot synopsis I could find.
Frankenstein and Me (1997)
Earl Williams, a 12 year old boy, spends much of his time daydreaming. His biggest fantasy is to create a monster just like Frankenstein. One day, his father (Burt Reynolds) dies of a heart attack. Shortly after, Earl goes to visit the House of Mysteries at a traveling fair, which is said to have the "real Frankenstein." The next day, Earl sadly watches the caravan of fair trucks leave town. As the last vehicle makes a turn, the crate holding the monster falls out. Earl decides to hide the monster and try to bring it back to life. On the fateful night, as storm clouds form above, Earl has his friends rig the monster so that it will conduct electricity produced by a lightning bolt. Just as the lightning bolt hits, Earl's mother and the local deputy enter. Everyone is amazed at the beauty of the electrical display, but will it be enough to bring the monster back to life...? Featuring Ryan Gosling in his first feature film role!
After being continually kicked out of boarding schools, Ben is sent to live with his stern Grandfather in a small town. While there, no one is interested in him with the exception of a girl named Katherine. The two become fast friends despite the unexplained protests from Ben's grandfather and Katherine's uncle. Almost as soon as he arrives, Ben begins to see the ghost of a woman around his grandfather's house. He and Katherine want to help the ghost who holds a connection to both of their families. As they research the past, Ben and Katherine find out that sometimes all you need to do to help someone is to believe.
Hangman's Curse (2003)
Hangman's Curse is a 2001 novel by Frank E. Peretti. It is the first book in the Veritas Project series for teenagers.
The story centers around an apparently supernatural case taken by a family of investigators who make up the Veritas Project. About seventy years after the suicidal hanging of Abel Frye, a student at a high school who hanged himself after being unable to cope with the pressures of bullying, Jocks from the school's football team begin to lose their sanity after seeing what they believe to be Abel's ghost, which is rumored to be under the control of a group of witches out for revenge.
The film is summarized as a family of paranormalists investigates the strange goings-on at a high school still reeling over a student's very public suicide in this teen thriller. Hangman's Curse concerns the further exploits of the Veritas Group, a loose collective of people committed to researching supernatural mysteries. The group's members include the Springfield family -- parents Nate (David Keith) and Sarah (Mel Harris) and Elisha (Leighton Meester) and Elijah (Douglas Smith) -- whose current assignment takes them to the aforementioned high school. There, they find that Abel, the teen who took his life, had been long ostracized by various cliques in the school -- jocks, popular kids, and the like -- all of whom are falling prey to mysterious ailments. As Nate and Sarah watch from the sidelines, it's up to Elisha and Elijah to pose as students to get inside the mystery.
The Substitute (2007)
When an alien comes from another planet to learn the meaning of love on Earth, it possesses the body of Ulla Harms, who is the wife of an owner of a poultry farm in Denmark. Meanwhile, the boy Carl grieves the loss of his mother, who died in a car crash, and is outcast in his school. His father Jesper Osböll wrote a bestseller about the power of love and also grieves the loss of his beloved wife. When the teacher of Carl has a health problem with salmonella, Ulla is assigned as the substitute teacher for his class. Sooner Carl and his friends discovers that Ulla is a monster from outer space, but their parents do not trust them and believe the children are fantasizing.
- The Watcher in the Woods – IMDB
- The Watcher in the Woods (Film) – Wikipedia
- The Watcher in the Woods (Novel) – Wikipedia
- Something Wicked This Way Comes – IMDB
- Something Wicked This Way Comes (Film) – Wikipedia
- Something Wicked This Way Comes (Novel) – Wikipedia
- The Monster Squad – IMDB
- The Monster Squad – Wikipedia
- The Willies – IMDB
- The Willies – Wikipedia
- Haunted – IMDB
- Haunted – Wikipedia
- Frankenstein and Me – IMDB
- Frankenstein and Me – Amazon
- Believe – IMDB
- Hangman's Curse – IMDB
- Hangman's Curse (Film) – Wikipedia
- Hangman's Curse (Novel) – Wikipedia
- The Substitute – IMDB
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